How to Uncover Performance Problems with the Windows Vista Event Log

When Vista is bogged down, takes forever to start, and otherwise appears to be misbehaving, one of the best places to uncover performance problems is the Event Log: No other diagnostic tool contains all the details.

However, you'll soon find out that Vista’s Event Log isn’t so much a log as a giant dumping ground. The sheer size of the file makes slogging through it a daunting task. Fortunately, Vista has a filter that you can use to narrow your search specifically to performance-related entries.

Even with the filter, the sheer volume of entries — many of which mean nothing — makes uncovering the source of the problem a challenge. But if you persevere, you can track down the culprit and resolve the problem.

  1. Click Start, right-click Computer, choose Properties, and then click the link to the Windows Experience Index.

  2. Click Advanced Tools (on the left), and then click View Performance Details in Event Log.

    The Microsoft Management Console appears with an Event Log filter for “Diagnostics - Performance / Operational.”

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  3. In the Operational box, scroll down to any event that interests you and click it.

    Details of the event appear in the lower box. For example, in the previous figure, we clicked a Shutdown Performance Monitor “Error” entry and discovered that Windows Defender was flagged as the problem that slowed Vista’s shutdown process.

    Think about that for a minute. Microsoft’s own Windows Defender generated the error because it didn’t respond fast enough. Unfortunately, most of the entries in the Event Log are just as meaningless.

  4. If you’re curious about the details of a particular event, click the link at the bottom marked Event Log Online Help.

    If you’re lucky, you'll see a Microsoft-generated Web page that describes the reason for the Event Log entry. You’re just as likely to see a placeholder, though, with no additional information.

  5. With any luck, you'll see the specific error you're looking for along with an explanation. But, you might have to review a lot of entries before you do.

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